Recruiting has been rather quiet for Gopher fans since the basketball signing period ended. But things have picked up after this weekend.
I believe my last Rodent Recruiting was just prior to the Michigan game which was the big recruiting weekend for the program. On campus was a host of some of the biggest names on the Gopher radar. From that weekend we secured a couple home town kids (Ra'Shede Hageman and Matt Garin) and a Texas DT, Joey Searcy. Those three committed on November 9th. Between that date and this weekend we received one verbal commitment.
Daryl Robinson was that lone commitment in that 34 days. Robinson is a JUCO corner who commited following the 55-0 loss to Iowa. 5-10, 175, he spent his freshman year at Temple, transfered to West Hills CC and how now decided that he wants to be a Gopher. That was on November 22nd.
Needless to say things have been very slow since that Michigan game. Things have finally picked up after a handful of recruits visited this weekend.
Our first verbal commitment was another JUCO player (the third in this class). Jeffery Wills is a massive OT who has been told he has a chance to start from day 1 at RT. Standing at 6-7, 350 lbs Wills has impressive size and at the very least will take up space as he attempts to open holes for the new running game and protect Weber. HERE is some youtube of Wills highlights. I am greatly intrigued by Wills and what he can potentially bring to the offensive line which badly needs some help.
Wills will be enrolling in January so he'll be on hand for spring practice and all signs point to him starting spring practice as the #1 RT.
The second commitment this weekend was Kenny Watkins who is a 6'0", 185 lb safety from Birmingham, Michigan. Watkins chose Minnesota over Indiana and a few MAC schools. Michigan and Michigan State were showing interest but had yet to offer. ESPN Insider did not have great things to say about Watkins' tackling ability but did have this to say about his athleticism and verticle leap...
Very good vertical leaping ability and can high point the football and displays soft hands when coming down with the interception. very productive on special teams in coverage units and when blocking kicks. Watkins has the chance to be a very good collegiate player. He will become more physical as he gets bigger and adds bulk.
Watkins is our third DB in this class (out of 17 commitments so far). Part of what Watkins brings to the table is hopefully what is a package deal. Minnesota is also after Watkins' cousin Jeremy Gainer, a four-star OLB. If you haven't paid attention, we could really use some LB commits with this class, and if they are of the four-star ilk that would be fabulous.
With the mention of Gainer, let me get to my current top 10 wish list...
- WR - Byrce McNeal - finally officially decommited from Michigan but is flirting with the likes of Clemson, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky and Colorado. A Gopher commtiment would be outstanding.
- CB - Michael Carter - Tyrone Carter's cousin is rumored to be a silent verbal for Florida but we won't know until the Army All-American game in January.
- OLB - Jeremy Gainer - new to the list but has become highly interested in the Gophers after decommitting from Indiana. Deciding between Michigan State and Minnesota.
- CB - Taikwon Paige - JUCO four-star. I don't want to go to the JUCO well as much as we are but we could use depth at corner.
- DT - Edward Nukols - four-star is a big man in the middle deciding among AZ, AZ State and Colorado.
- DT - Sheldon Richardson - the five-star DT would be atop this list if I thought we really had a shot at him. Still a soft verbal to Missouri and Minnesota is in the mix, but I'll be surprised if it happens.
- ATH - Bryant Allen - Missouri native might (big maybe here) aid in the recruiting of Richardson, but Allen would bring his own skills to the table. He is also lookiing to participate in basketball at the collegiate level so maybe the 6'0", 160 lb kid was enamored by Tubby Smith and will choose Minnesota this week. Dec. 18th is the date he has set to make his announcement.
- S - Anthony Leon - more help for the secondary is always huge. Leon is a four-star JUCO. Again I'm hesitant about the JUCO route but talent is talent and if he can truly help bring him north.
I'm going to end my list at eight. We currently have 17 commitment and technically we can only bring in 25 (we'll likely sign a few over that to cover for academic casualties).
Off from previous list - Tyler Lewhan and Vladimir Emilien (commited to Michigan), Ra'shede Hageman and Hayo Carpenter (commited to Minnesota), Kendrick James (commited to Louisiana Tech), Frank Crawford is still a strong Gopher potential and likely #9 on my list.
With a home visits on the schedule things could continue to move over the next week or two (not sure when the visit period ends). We'll do our best to keep up.